As the temperature drops and winter approaches, many reach for a warm cup of hot chocolate to cozy up with. With so much information available on what is or isn’t good for us, it can be hard to know what to believe. So, is hot chocolate good for you? Let’s take a closer look at its ingredients and determine whether or not it can be part of a healthy diet.
All About Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate, also known as cocoa, is a warm beverage typically made by mixing hot milk or water with chocolate powder or grated chocolate. It is a popular and comforting drink during the colder seasons and can be enjoyed with added flavors such as cinnamon or marshmallows.
Hot chocolate has been enjoyed for centuries, with the earliest known version originating from the Mayan civilization in Central America. Today, it is widely available in many forms including everything from spicy Mexican hot chocolate to frothy European hot chocolate. It is also available in instant packets, specialized hot chocolate mixes, and even gourmet versions made with high-quality chocolate.
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How To Make Hot Chocolate
There are several ways to make hot chocolate:
1. Make It From Scratch
One option is to mix together cocoa powder, sugar, and a dash of salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly stir in milk and continue to heat until hot but not boiling. For a richer taste, you can use whole milk or add cream.
2. Use A Pre-Made Mix
Another option is to heat up a pre-made hot chocolate mix in the microwave or on the stove. Some people prefer to use hot water instead of milk for a lighter taste. For added flavor, you can add vanilla extract or a cinnamon stick.
Finally, top off your hot chocolate with whipped cream or marshmallows for a delicious treat.
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Is Hot Chocolate Good For You?
While hot chocolate is undeniably delicious, it’s essential to consider if it’s good for you. It does contain some nutritional values, but it’s essential to keep in mind that it is often high in sugar and calories. Some of which are:
1. It Provides Calcium
Hot chocolate can be a good source of calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth. Depending on the type of milk used, drinking hot chocolate can provide up to one-third of your recommended daily intake of calcium.
If you want an additional boost, try adding almond milk to your hot chocolate as it has more calcium than regular cow’s milk. You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon for added flavor.
2. It Contains Antioxidants
Hot chocolate is also packed with antioxidants, which are important for maintaining good health. The cocoa powder used to make dark chocolate contains flavonoids and catechins, which have been linked to several health benefits including reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
Read more: Can You Eat Dark Chocolate On Keto?
3. It Is High In Calories
While hot chocolate can be a good source of calcium and antioxidants, it is important to remember that it is also high in calories and saturated fat. Depending on the type of milk chocolate used, a single cup of hot chocolate can contain up to 200 calories or more.
To reduce the calorie content, you can replace some of the milk with water or use skimmed or oat milk.
4. It Contains Iron And Magnesium
Hot chocolate is also a good source of iron and magnesium. Iron helps to transport oxygen throughout the body and is important for energy production, while magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure and supports healthy bones.
Depending on the type of cocoa used, a single cup of hot chocolate can contain up to 15 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron and 8 percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium.
5. It Soothes Sore Throats And Other Respiratory Ailments
Hot chocolate is a popular remedy for sore throats and other respiratory ailments. The warm beverage helps to soothe the throat and can be helpful in relieving the irritation caused by coughing.
Additionally, hot cocoa contains theobromine, which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce lung inflammation.
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6. Hot Chocolate Aids Memory
Hot chocolate is also believed to help improve memory and cognitive functions. Cocoa contains flavanols which are associated with increased blood flow to the brain. This improved blood flow helps get more oxygen and nutrients to the cells in the brain, which can help improve its functioning and aid memory.
Additionally, cocoa contains epicatechin, a plant-based compound that is believed to help improve memory and learning capability.
7. It Helps With Mood Swings
Hot chocolate has been associated with improved mood and reduced stress levels due to its high cocoa content. The flavanols in cocoa have been linked to increased levels of serotonin, which helps to regulate mood and reduce anxiety.
Additionally, theobromine in cocoa can help to reduce fatigue and improve alertness. This can be particularly beneficial for those who suffer from mood swings.
8. Hot Cocoa Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that drinking chocolate can help lower blood pressure. The flavanols in cocoa are known to relax the walls of your arteries, improving blood flow and reducing overall blood pressure.
Additionally, the magnesium and potassium in cocoa have also been linked to improved cardiovascular health, making it an ideal beverage for people with hypertension or high blood pressure.
9. Dutch-Processed Cocoa Reduces Diabetes
The Dutch-processed cocoa is a unique process that uses alkalis to reduce the acidity of cocoa beans, creating a milder and less bitter flavor. This type of cocoa has been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes.
Studies have shown that eating chocolate at least once a week has lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, the flavanols in cocoa have been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, which can help lower the risk of diabetes.
Read more: Is There Caffeine In Chocolate?
Hot chocolate can be a comforting and delicious treat, but it is important to remember that, like other sugary foods, it is also high in calories, sugar, and fat. If consumed in moderation, hot chocolate can be part of a healthy diet as it provides some essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.
However, if you are looking for a healthier alternative to hot chocolate, you can try adding cocoa powder to your breakfast smoothie or making a cup of hot cocoa with skimmed milk and stevia. You can also opt for a cup of green tea.
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